There are federal and state laws regulating nursing home abuse and neglect. The most relevant federal law is the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987.
Nursing Home Abuse and the Nursing Home Reform Act
Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes are not eligible to receive funds from Medicaid and Medicare unless they are certified by the state to be in compliance with the act. The act includes a Residents’ Bill of Rights which states residents have:
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- The right to freedom from physical restraints
- The right to privacy
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
- The right to participate in resident and family groups
- The right to be treated with dignity
- The right to exercise self-determination
- The right to communicate freely
- The right to participate in the review of one's care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.
Although the Nursing Home Reform Act is federal law, enforcement of the provisions is done by the state of Nevada’s Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance (HCQC). The complaints are prioritized by determining the potential harm to the resident in question. The three classifications of harm are:
- Substantial harm: when the senior is in immediate jeopardy, the investigation will begin within 48 hours of receiving the complaint.
- Minimal harm: This type of complaint is given “medium priority” by the HCQC and will be investigated within 45 days.
- No harm: This classification is given the lowest priority and is investigated by the HCQC as their resources become available.
The HCQC classifies the type of harm based upon an evaluation of the abuse described in the complaint.
Nevada law defines abuse as “the willful and unjustified infliction of pain, injury or mental anguish or deprivation of food, shelter, clothing, or services necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of an older (60+) person.” NRS 200.5092
- Nevada law classifies four types of nursing home abuse: Abuse (physical and mental), neglect, exploitation, and isolation.
- Physical abuse is defined as
- Serious or unexplained injury
- Sexual assault
- Inappropriate physical or chemical restraint
- Over or under medicating a resident
- Psychological abuse is defined as verbal
- Physical abuse is defined as
- Neglect is an intentional or unintentional failure to provide necessities such as
- Necessary services like medical care and personal hygiene
- Exploitation is a violation of trust in the relationship between a resident and a person responsible to care for his or her financial well-being.
- Where a guardian may use deception, intimidation, or undue influence to obtain control of assets illegitimately.
- Isolation is intentionally preventing, without justification, of residents from
- Receiving phone calls
- Receiving mail
- Receiving visitors
Employees of nursing homes are required by law to report any of the violations listed above. If you need to file a complaint to the HCQC, you can do so online at this link: HCQC Complaint Form
If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact us at Clear Counsel Law Group at (702) 522-0696.